Preparing for the At-Home Writing Retreat

This will be my first staycation without a bouquet of flowers on my desk. But it will also be my first writing retreat in years. So to say I’m excited, even with the complications of COVID-19, would be an understatement.

At the start of anything, I like to set the bar high. So here are some things I’m aiming for during my week off for writing.

  • Social media for writing purposes only: I can tweet or blog about literature and writing and nothing else. (Honestly, this is more like checking whether my self-control has a fever or not.)
  • Two classes, readings, or talks each day: I actually have a schedule for this, just like I would if I were at a real writing residency or conference. We’ll see if migraines cooperate.
  • Daily work on a short story: I’m working on a Hansel-and-Gretel-inspired piece in the early stages, so who knows where it’ll end up.
  • Novel revisions: I think my novel draft is good. After 14 years off-and-on, I should hope so. But I want to see if I can make it really good. Here goes. I’ll start off with lots of structural revisions, and that’s where all the new recycled post-its and index cards come in.
  • Lots and lots of reading: After getting steadier work the last month, I have some money to splurge. So I have a stack of new books to indulge in.
  • Journaling each morning: I’ll sharpen my pencils and set out my vacation journal each day, so I’m ready to go with my coffee. I’m hoping the weather will be nice enough that I can do a few of these sessions on the back porch.
  • The usual day trip to kick things off on my first day: Which, since my husband and I are in self-quarantine after he was exposed at work, means an afternoon in the wonderful world of Animal Crossing.

Of course, before all the fun starts, there’s a plan to clean and vacuum the carpets, change all the sheets, dust and wipe down the apartment, and just generally do a day of spring cleaning. If my migraines allow, it’ll happen. And it’ll help me feel a little bit more like my week off is a treat. We’ll see.

I’ll let you know at the end of my time off what worked, what didn’t, and what changes I’ll make to my next writing retreat. Stay tuned.


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